Dubbed "Chi-Raq," Chicago has become a hotbed for crimes committed with guns. The murder rate skyrocketed in recent years and now even the beached are not safe. What started out as a beautiful June sunny afternoon on 31st Street Beach ended in gunfire with two Black teens hospitalized in critical condition.
Witnesses told police that the 16-year-old boys were engaged in a physical altercation when a yet-to-be-identified woman shot them both. One was hit in the neck while the other suffered wounds to both legs.
"It's so sad; thousands of people gathered with their children, having a great time [and] enjoying this beautiful Chicago weather on this relaxing Sunday," Rhonda Griffin said. "Then, all of a sudden, hundreds of parents are running in fear that their child is next victim of gun violence in Chicago...It's just sad and the summer hasn't even begun."
Police shut the beach down for about three hours while they investigated and ensured the boys received medical attention. The episode caught many beach-goers completely off-guard. "We come here every summer and nothing like this ever happens," Tammi Williams-Paige said. "It's usually an older crowd. It was shocking."
Another seemingly random incident happened at the same beach back in mid-April where a 27-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman were shot. They both survived, but Chicago residents are concerned that things will get worse as temperatures continue to climb. "When it's 80 degrees in Chicago, there's a 90 percent chance there's a shooting," said a female onlooker.
Once considered a refuge from inner-city violence, the beach may become the next Chicago war zone. "This is like neutral ground...This is not the place where you expect things to go down," said a 23-year old Bronzeville man. "It's away from where people are getting killed. That's the crazy thing."
If the trend continues, then the coming months may be some of the worst that the city has ever seen. Let's hope a solution is on the way and soon.